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Jan 28, 2010
How does Dollywood compare to Busch Gardens Williamsburg or Kings Dominion? I might be in the area this summer and am thinking of going. I will be with my 4 year old daughter, so I'm more interested in family rides, scenery, and shows than I am in extreme thrills.


Nessie is lonely.
Silver Donor
Sep 28, 2013
Virginia Beach
RE: Dollywood

I have never been to Dollywood, but I would say your choice between Busch and KD has to do with the age of your kids.

(further disqualification, I have no kids)
In my opinion, KD is better for very young kids. I would say BGW is better for slightly older kids.

As far as shows go... I am really not the person to ask...

Busch probably has an edge when it comes to atmosphere.

I hope this helps... maybe a little?


Jul 22, 2013
Arlington, VA
I have been to Dollywood three times in the past few years, and in my opinion it is more like BGW than KD. It has a country/mountain theme with a Christian vibe. Generally, I believe people who love BGW tend to like Dollywood, as well, because it is a similar type of park.

There is a children's area called "Country Fair." There are also a coal-powered train and some other kid-friendly attractions.

Despite the park's reputation for fantastic food, I was honestly a bit underwhelmed. That said we did find several places that we really enjoyed. The Grist Mill in particular is worth a stop. The cinnamon bread is amazing, and the water wheel and mill are super-cool.

I've only been to one of the shows at Dollywood, but it was very good by theme park standards. I liked it a lot more than anything at BGW.

There are several charming shops, and the area is very wooded. So, walking around the park is pleasant, as well.

The first time we went, Dollywood seemed run down. In fact there was mold in one of the bathrooms, and the customer service was terrible. This past year, however, it seemed greatly improved. It was cleaner and the staff was incredibly friendly.

I, personally, don't like the water park, because the water was much too cold for me.

DreamMore, the new resort hotel, however, was fantastic. When we went for the holiday event, our park tickets and front of the line Q-bot were included with room. We also had a complimentary shuttle to the park, so we didn't have to pay for parking either.

Hope that helps?
Sep 29, 2009
I was so close to going one year. Right before going to Tennessee, one of my party that was going fractured two ribs during a farewell ride on Shockwave at Kings Dominion.

Now that that is over with, I would really love to go to Dollywood. What Nicole said about a "Christian-vibe" really intrigues me, because it reinforces what I have heard about the parks having similar family values. Although I also know about Herschend's stance on alcohol. It's so different from Busch parks originally aiming for the same demographics, but with beer.

Edit: I have also heard a lot about the shows a Dollywood. Supposedly they used to take talent from BGW when they were starting off.
Jan 22, 2018
Been to both. Dollywood would be a “country-fied” BGW. Both feature similar terrain in terms of walking. Think lots of steep incline walking. During the summer months it can be quite hot, fortunately there’s plenty of tree cover, and its situated in a valley, so its more humidity that full on heat you deal with. The craftsman valley was fantastic. Lots of shops featuring hand made goods, my personal favorites were the blacksmith, the potter, the candleworks and the leathersmith. All functioning shops. I would say plan your trip around the amazing bubble show, it only runs through first week of August but is an amazing cant miss show. Youd be doing yourself and your child a disservice to miss it. Check the DW calendar for dates and times. I ate the all you can eat at Miss Lillian’s, had breakfast one day at Granny’s and gourged on the cinnamon bread at the grist mill. There’s a heavy emphasis on barbecue and southern comfort food, so its heavy on fat and greasy goodness. Unfortunately they removed the river battle ride this off season, so that eliminates on child friendly option, but they still have a bunch of rides geared towards kids or are kid friendly. All three water rides are great, the unique one being the river slidewinder. That was a hoot. They have complimentary shuttles from the parking lot to the park, which is an extreme rarity these days. (I remember the Marriot’s Great America days when they offered the service and miss it). Outside the park offers some neat things too. Titanic museum, wax museum, Dixie Stampede dinner show, Great Smoky Mountains park, Ripley’s aquarium. If you plan on going more than one day, buy the season pass, its cheaper than two day admission.
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